Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prep soccer teams set their sights on state

Express Staff Writer

Wood River junior midfielder Brigette Thomas (left) gets taken down by a Jerome defender on a play Wolverine fans thought would be whistled for a penalty shot during a 2-0 Wood River win Oct. 2. It wasn’t. Photo by Roland Lane

     Anybody for some state soccer hardware? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s the essential matter of state-qualifying conference tournaments that will get you there or send you home for the season.

     The four high school varsity soccer teams in the Wood River Valley, boys and girls, wrap up their regular-season schedules this week and start quests for state at league tournaments.

     Boasting a combined 37-8-7 record, the four teams are the Community School boys and girls, and the Wood River High School boys and girls. Not since 2007 have all four have qualified in the same year for Idaho High School Activities Association state soccer tournaments.

     Six years ago, that 2007 state tournament was staged at the Capital Soccer Complex just west of Boise—and all four teams played within walking distance of each other in the 4A and 3A classifications.

     This year, the 4A and 3A girls’ and boys’ soccer tournaments will be played within driving distance of each other over the weekend of Thursday, Oct. 24 through Saturday, Oct. 26—the 4A meet at Brothers Field near Caldwell High School and the 3A meet at Vallivue High School, also in Caldwell.


Cutthroat girls go for the gold

     Judging by its season so far, and the strength of its roster with eight seniors, the Community School girls coached for the 12th year by Kelly Feldman seem to have the best shot at state tournament hardware in 2013—and also a good chance to win the school’s first-ever state girls’ soccer championship.

     The Cutthroat girls (11-0-0) have outscored opponents 70-1 and have posted seven consecutive shutouts going into their final two regular-season games this week. One of those games was against the main Cutthroat challenger for High Desert Soccer Conference supremacy.

     That was Filer with its dominant striker Darby Robertson. The Cutthroats (10-0-0 league, 30 points) visited Filer (10-2-1, 9-1-0 league, 27 points) on Tuesday. Because of their 5-0 home win over Filer Sept. 12 at Sagewillow Farms, the Cutthroats needed only a tie to nail down the top seed for the upcoming six-team HDSC tourney.

     If the Cutthroats beat or tied Filer, Feldman’s group will have clinched the top tournament seed and a first-round bye when the other five teams gather Saturday, Oct. 12 for three first-round games at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls. The Cutthroat girls would then host a semi-final game Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m. against either Wendell or Gooding at Sagewillow.

     Championship game is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 17, to be hosted by the Cutthroats if they win next Tuesday’s semi-final. The Community School girls will be shooting for their fifth consecutive HDSC tournament title and 13th consecutive trip to the state soccer tournament.

     Basically, it’s come down to a seven-game season for the Cutthroats—this week’s two regular-season final games including Thursday’s home contest against Wendell, the prospect of two games in the HDSC tournament, and the possibility of three games in the State 3A soccer tournament Oct. 24-26.

     Standing in the way of state gold, in all probability, are the McCall-Donnelly Vandals—the two-time defending State 3A champion who boast an 11-1-0 record this season and 60-7 goals-against. The Vandals lost their only game 4-1 at Lewiston Sept. 21. They’ve won two straight state titles—2-1 over Weiser in 2011 and 2-1 over the Community School last fall.

     If the Cutthroats run the table, they’ll wind up with a school-record 18 wins and an unbeaten 18-0-0 record. The way the State 3A bracket is set up this year, McCall-Donnelly and the Community School by winning their conference tournaments would likely meet in the championship game to be played Saturday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. at Middleton High School.

     Another Cutthroat chase to watch: The pursuit of senior Hannah Dies for the 100-goal career scoring mark. The school career scoring leader enters the season’s homestretch with 94 goals including four three-goal hat tricks this season.


Other regular-season finales

     Coach Richard Whitelaw’s Cutthroat boys, encouraged by Thursday’s 2-2 home draw with reigning State 3A champ Gooding, are setting their sights this week on earning the second seed in the seven-team HDSC tournament that starts Saturday at SunWay in Twin Falls.

     Whitelaw’s Cutthroats (10-2-2, 7-1-2, 20 points) visited Filer (0-12-1, 0-9-1) Tuesday and have a big conference game against Wendell on Thursday at 5:45 p.m. on Browning Field. The Cutthroats won 2-0 at Wendell Sept. 17, but the Trojans (7-2-1, 22 points) by winning out would snatch the No. 2 seed away from the Cutthroats.

     Either way, the Cutthroats and Trojans will have the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the tournament and will play their first HDSC tourney games Saturday at SunWay.

     More importantly, the result of Thursday’s Wendell-Community School regular-season finale should determine which team will host the tournament semi-final contest on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

     If Whitelaw’s team wants that semi-final game to be played at Browning Field, they will first need to beat last year’s State 3A consolation king Wendell in Thursday’s grudge match on the Elkhorn pitch.

     Gooding (8-1-2, 26 points) needs only a win over Filer Thursday to clinch the top seed.

     This year, the top three teams in the HDSC tournament qualify for the State 3A boys’ meet at Vallivue. The Cutthroat boys last qualified for state in 2011, when the Sun Valley boys captured their third State 3A consolation title in six seasons.

     Wood River High School’s boys and girls wrapped up their seasons Monday with twin 7-0 Great Basin Conference wins over the Minico Spartans.       The victory left the Wolverine boys (7-2-4, 5-2-3 league, 18 points) in a third-place tie with defending GBC tournament king Jerome (9-4-0, 6-4-0, 18 points) since the Tigers defeated host Burley, also on Monday.

     Here’s how the tiebreaker worked for seedings in the GBC tournament starting Thursday:

     Canyon Ridge (12-1-1, 8-1-1, 25 points) defeated Twin Falls (6-6-2, 6-2-2, 20 points) by a 3-1 score Monday and earned the top seed for the six-team tournament over No. 2 Twin Falls. The tiebreaker compared results of the two games Wood River and Jerome played this season against No. 1 Canyon Ridge.

     Since Wood River tied Canyon Ridge 1-1 and lost to the Riverhawks 2-0, the Wolverines settled for the No. 4 seed seeing that Jerome handed Canyon Ridge its only league loss this season, 2-1 at Jerome Sept. 25.

     So, Wood River will host No. 5 Burley (3-11-1, 1-8-1, 4 points) on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at South Valley Sports Complex soccer field in Hailey. General admission fee is $5, since Wolverine season booster cards will not be accepted.

     Jerome will entertain No. 6 Minico Thursday, with that winner going against Twin Falls Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12 noon at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls. If Wood River beats Burley Thursday, the Wolverines will play Canyon Ridge Saturday at 10 a.m. on the same Twin Falls field.

     Coach Jenni Conrad’s Wood River girls (9-4-1, 8-1-1 league, 25 points) are the No. 2 seed for the upcoming GBC tournament behind two-time defending league champion Twin Falls (9-4-1, 9-0-1, 28 points).

     No. 3 Canyon Ridge (9-6-0, 6-4-0, 18 points) is likely to be Wood River’s semi-final opponent Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12 noon at SunWay in Twin Falls.

     If Wood River is able to beat Canyon Ridge in the tournament Saturday, the Wolverines will qualify for the GBC championship game next Tuesday, probably against Twin Falls, with the game to be played again at SunWay Soccer Complex. If the Wolverines lose to
Canyon Ridge Saturday, they’ll host a loser-out game next Tuesday on the Hailey pitch.

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